Science learning via participation in online citizen science

Karen Louise Masters, Eun Young Oh, Joe Cox, Brooke Simmons, Chris Lintott, Gary Graham, Anita Greenhill, Kate Holmes

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We investigate the development of scientific content knowledge of volunteers participating in online citizen science projects in the Zooniverse (, including the astronomy projects Galaxy Zoo ( and Planet Hunters ( We use econometric methods to test how measures of project participation relate to success in a science quiz, controlling for factors known to correlate with scientific knowledge. Citizen scientists believe they are learning about both the content and processes of science through their participation. Won't don't directly test the latter, but we find evidence to support the former - that more actively engaged participants perform better in a project-specific science knowledge quiz, even after controlling for their general science knowledge. We interpret this as evidence of learning of science content inspired by participation in online citizen science.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-33
Number of pages34
JournalJournal of Science Communication
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 20 Apr 2016


  • Citizen Science
  • Public engagement with science and technology
  • Public understanding of science and technology
  • RCUK
  • EP/K039784/1


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